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Taj Mahal

Agra City Guide

Taj Mahal is the prime tourists attarctions in India. The monument is one of the 'Seven Wonders of Modern World'. The historic building took 21 years and 20,000 workers to complete. It is truly a marvellous structure.

Constructed by Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal is the museoleum in memory of his favorite wife Arjumand Banu Begam, popularly known by her title Mumtaz Mahal, from which the name of the monument is taken. Widely recognized as the culmination of classical Indo-Persian architecture, the Taj Mahal is representative of Shah Jahan's strong interest in building and artistic innovation. The new architectural style includes aspects that were to impinge much of subsequent Indian architecture. Symmetry along two sides of a central axis, new columnar styles, curvilinear forms, and symbolic decorations based on naturalistic plant motifs are all characteristics of the Shahjahan style that can be found in the Taj Mahal Complex.
Construction
The land for constructing Taj Mahal was bought from Raja Jai Singh. Situated on the banks of Yamuna River, Raja Jai Singh was also instructed by Shahjahan to provide a regular supply of special, hard and non-porous marble from the quarries of Makrana. A ½-mile (4.02 km) road ramp was built to haul huge pieces of marble to the site of the construction. Strangely the scaffolding of this enticing edifice was made, not of wood or bamboo, but with bricks. It is probable that the lack of wood made the architects to make brick scaffoldings.
Though the concept behind Taj Mahal was of Shahjahan, but he was greatly assisted in his endeavor by a number of architects. The name of the architect, which is often mentioned during the building of Taj Mahal, is that of Muhammad Isa Khan, who hailed from Shiraz in Iran. It is also said that a creative nucleus of 37 people formed the core advisory group behind this gigantic project. The construction of Taj Mahal started in1632. Work on the mausoleum started in frenzy with thousands of artisans and laborers toiling ceaselessly day after day. Taj Mahal, with the help of an army of 20,000 laborers, took 21 years to complete, who worked under the guidance of Shahjahan. It is also said that the royal coffers went dry after this project was over.

At the end of the first year of construction the mausoleum had taken shape and the grave chamber along with its surrounding works were also completed. The body of Mumtaz Mahal was ceremoniously interred into the tomb. Six years of extensive labor saw the main building of the mausoleum complete and crowned with a dignified guava shaped dome. According to some historians the major construction of Taj Mahal was completed in about 10 years time. Architecture
The Taj Mahal is conjured most frequently in terms of Islamic architecture. Although Islamic architecture is difficult to define collectively, the Taj Mahal seems to represent its essence and strongest characteristic -- the ability of the Islamic religion and its leaders to exploit into foreign regions and meld the best features of that place with its own to create unique works of architecture. The Taj Mahal is often noted as a monument to love, but it can also be seen as a fusion of architectural traditions and, as such, a monument to multiculturalism. This can be said about many Islamic structures and about many architectural monuments but some background on the Taj Mahal and this period reveals that this is especially true here.

The Mausoleum of the Taj Mahal at Agra stands in a formally laid-out walled garden entered through a pavilion on the main axis. The tomb, raised on a terrace and first seen reflected in the central canal, is entirely sheathed in marble, but the mosque and counter-mosque on the transverse axis are built in red sandstone. The four minarets, set symmetrically about the tomb, are scaled down to heighten the effect of the dominant, slightly bulbous dome. The mosques, built only to balance the composition are set sufficiently far away to do no more than frame the mausoleum. In essence, the whole riverside platform is a mosque courtyard with a tomb at its centre. The great entrance gate with its domed central chamber, set at the end of the long watercourse, would in any other setting be monumental in its own right
History
The legandary Taj Mahal dates back to more than four hundred years ago. The Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders, is a envision of love by Shahjehan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

The Mogul emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in the memory of his loving wife a Muslim Persian princess, Arjumand Banu who later became known as Mumtaz Mahal . Shah Jahan and Mumtaz married in 1612 but Mumtaz died in 1630 after giving birth to their 14th child, for she died in childbirth. When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the emperor first, that he build the Taj; second, that he should marry again; third, that he be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the first and second promises. It is a symbol of eternal love.

Taj Mahal Facts
Taj Mahal, India is attached with many rumors that adds on to its popularity. The grounds behind these legends and myths are controversial and disputable. Nevertheless, Taj Mahal presents many riddles to the archeologists and thus, is of tremendrous interest to the adventurers of history. Several blocked rooms and passages whose secrets are carefully guarded by the Government of India fuels the curiosity of the people even more to delve into the mysteries of this exotic edifice.

Taj Mahotsav
Taj Mahotsav is one of the spectacular festival in India and is organized by Uttar Pradesh Tourism. Spring time is the time of the year when nature dawns all it's colourful grandeur and Agra bursts into colourful celebrations. For 10 days there is a sheer celebration of Uttar Pradesh's rich heritage of arts, crafts, culture, cuisine, dance and music. It is the time of Taj Mahotsava. There are festivities all around and Agra truly puts on the colours of joy and gets modified into one non-stop carnival. Held as an annual event at Shilpgram, the Taj Mahotsav is a gentle peep into the rich heritage and extraordinary legacies of this enticing abode.

The festivities commence with a exiciting procession inspired by Mughal splendour. Decorated with elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artists and master craftsmen, they all help to recreate a visual delight reminiscent of the golden era of the Mughal Darbars.

Taj Mahotsav is where the legendary artisans and master craftsmen breathe life into their endearing works of art. Marble inlay apart, the Festival brings forth an array of other fine crafts as well- wood carvings from Saharanpur, brass and other metal ware from Moradabad, handmade carpets of Badohi, the blue pottery of Khurja, the Chikan work of Lucknow, the silk of Banares... to name a few. Agra with its legendry tradition of exquisite craftsmanship is thus the ideal venue for holding a crafts fair like the Taj Mahotsav.

Taj Mahal Information
Open from sunrise to 19 hours. Entry fee for those above 12 years Rs. 15.00. Free entry on Fridays.
Getting There
By Air : Agra is on the popular regular tourist route Delhi/Agra/Khajuraho/Varanasi and return. Flights connect Agra to Delhi, Khajuraho and Varanasi.
By Rail : Agra lies on the Delhi to Mumbai broad - gauge railway line. Express trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, and Chennai halt at Agra. Luxury Train, Palace on Wheels, starts and end in Agra.
By Road : Agra is connected to Delhi, Rajasthan and other cities of Uttar Pradesh by an excellent bus service.
City Transport : Internal Transportation includes Taxis, Buses and Auto-rickshaws. For moving to Taj Mahal, one has to move to the Taj complex, from where Horse and Camel Carriges and Battery operated buses and taxis are available to move to Taj Mahal.



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